1990s A Midnight Clear (1992)

Published on December 25th, 2007 | by Chris

1

A Midnight Clear (1992)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On December 25, 2007
Last modified:October 6, 2012

Summary:

find a reason and an occasion to watch this, especially around Christmas, as the entire "Christmas Tree" scene is one for the record books. If nothing else it evokes some rather un-warrior like emotions and makes you think that things maybe aren't so bad....

A Midnight Clear (1992)A Midnight Clear is based on the William Wharton novel of the same name, and while I've not read the book, I will always keep this picture near the top of my all-time favorite war movies.

The story follows one Sgt. Will Knott (as in "will not"? played by Ethan Hawke) and his squad, well, half-squad of men who are ordered to an abandoned house near the lines to keep tabs on enemy activity.  In this squad are the old-man of the bunch "Mother" (Gary Sinise), the failed priest-student "Father" (Frank Whaley), and the other typical soldier types played by Kevin Dillon, Peter Berg, and Arye Gross, whos character Shutzer just happens to be Jewish.

Did I fail to mention that this little excursion takes place during the battle of the bulge, in late December just before the German counter offensive?  Yeah, that's where things get really interesting.   One night, they encounter a German squad outside their position, but quickly begin to realize that this is not your typical wartime encounter.

It seems their enemy is a squad of old men and young kids, fresh off the Russian front, who are fed up with fighting for the Reich and wish to surrender.  But its never that simple, they want to make it look like they were captured, and the two bands create an elaborate plot to make it look like a firefight took place.

I won't spoil the ending.  At all.  (Although you might get a hint or two.)  That is part of why I love this movie so much.  It is a roller coaster ride of emotion, from the opening scene of "mother" running naked through the snowy forest in madness, to his, well, intervention later on.  The film builds up your feelings and sense of security and moral "high ground", and quickly smashes all that to pieces at the end, and stomps on them like so much broken glass.  If any of these events actually took place (from Wharton's book) I can only imagine what a toll that would have taken on the men.

There's also a wonderful flashback event in the middle of the film which marks these mens' transition from boys to men, at least off the battlefield.  You'd think it wouldn't fit into the overall picture but for some strange reason it fits perfectly.  It cements these guys' relationship and their overall "good intentions" and moral "high ground" that they want to take, but seem to wind up on the wrong side of.....

Aw hell, just find a reason and an occasion to watch this, especially around Christmas, as the entire "Christmas Tree" scene is one for the record books.  If nothing else it evokes some rather un-warrior like emotions and makes you think that things maybe aren't so bad....

... at least for those few moments.  And thats the point I think.  A Midnight Clear is one of those pictures that doesn't get a lot of respect, and it would seem that the DVD is unavailable, so thanks NetFlix yet again!

A Midnight Clear A Midnight Clear
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Description

A MIDNIGHT CLEAR ranks with BLACK HAWK DOWN for its stunning emotional impact. Set during December 1944, it is the story of a small army intelligence platoon sent on a dangerous mission to the Germanfront...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Brand:
Manufacturer: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Gary Sinise
  • Ethan Hawke
  • Peter Berg
  • Kevin Dillon
  • Andre Lamal

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars from William Wharton novel) about the time it was first released (on cable tv) and it had always been fairly easy to remember, January 30, 2017
By 
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This review is from: A Midnight Clear (DVD)
I saw A MIDNIGHT CLEAR (1992, from William Wharton novel) about the time it was first released (on cable tv) and it had always been fairly easy to remember: The pre-WW2 flashback of soldiers going into town to lose virginity (oh that resolution...); the snowball fight, Christmas Eve and the somewhere in Europe (turns out Ardennes Forest near French border) snow is deep and everywhere; and "O, tannenbaum...". The battle scenes came back to me as I watched again. A MIDNIGHT CLEAR does get violent despite what is at the heart of this movie: an Anti-war movie. Heck, there is even one character in the squad (6 young men remain from 12) the rest call "mother" because he is somewhat of a nag and is the oldest at 26 years old (Gary Sinise). There is another character they call "Father" (Frank Whaley) because he had planned on becoming a priest but he didn't/hadn't finished Seminary school. This ain't no collection of badass soldiers.
Ethan Hawke is (newly... Read more
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not widescreen!, May 5, 2016
By 
Amazon Customer (Lansing, MI United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Midnight Clear (DVD)
The movie plot itself is a fine film. I've always enjoyed it. My quibble is that the DVD box says it is "Widescreen" with a ratio aspect of 1:85:1. But the DVD is not widescreen but rather 4:3--a standard full screen on the older TV sets. On HDTVs, it is NOT even close to full screen as there are large black vertical bars on each side of the film image. Some of the writing on the back of the DVD box is in Korean. This DVD I bought on Amazon is the 2010 version. See attached photo of back of DVD box.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Underrated and Overlooked War Film Ever, November 3, 2014
By 
Philip H. Hopkins Jr. (Chattanooga, TN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Midnight Clear (DVD)
The single most overlooked and underrated war film of all time. A Midnight Clear captures the surreality of war without sacrificing the stark realities. As with war itself, happy endings are relative and this film, which follows a team of six recon soldiers and their encounter with a group of German soldiers at Christmas during WW2. The performances by Ethan Hawke, Frank Whaley, Gary Sinese and company (all at the start of their careers at the time) are grounded and the score by Mark Isham (Never Cry Wolf, Once Upon A Time) underscores the unreality of war and it's often tragic consequences. An absolute must-see and I hope the film studio involved will finally give it the DVD treatment it deserves.
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A Midnight Clear (1992) Chris

Summary: find a reason and an occasion to watch this, especially around Christmas, as the entire "Christmas Tree" scene is one for the record books. If nothing else it evokes some rather un-warrior like emotions and makes you think that things maybe aren't so bad....

4.0


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



One Response to A Midnight Clear (1992)

  1. B Hellqvist says:

    While it is 26 years since I read the novel (mainly while off-duty on winter manoeuvres – very atmospheric!), from what I recall, the movie stays close to it. I agree – it is a really good movie and one I plan to watcha gain some day.

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